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The Mechanism of Retractable Ball Point Pens

Ball point pens come in a variety of scope and appearance, and are part and parcels of our daily lives. It is an indispensable item, and we carry one or more in our bags everyday. A retractable ball point pen is one of the more popular types available in the market. But how does the mechanism work?

The Components

Retractable ball point pens may look ordinary, but they're actually made with advanced engineering precision. This type of pen possesses a barrel or tub which is endeavored in two separate components which holds the ink reservoir. At the last part of the reservoir, there's a tip or nib and finishes off with a sphere. Inside the barrel or tub on each side of the reservoir is a spring mechanism, which in turn is secured by a clip and screw on each individual end.

The Ink
What makes retractable ball point pens special is the ink itself. Writing apparatus of the past such as reed, quill or fountain pens utilized thick ink from India. This type of ink was generally effective; with the exception that it can be a little erratic with uneven flow and takes quite a while to completely dry. At times, the ink also congests in the pen. As history would dictate, Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian newspaperman had an epiphany and created ink similar to the ones used in newspaper printing in 1943, as it dries really quickly with no annoying stains. To get better results, Laszlo Biro invented the conception of utilizing a sphere at the tip to improve ink distribution.

The Sphere
The sphere is positioned at the tilt of the pen. These retractable ball point pens are secured firmly by sockets, while still allowing ample space to move without restriction. Ink is dispensed from the reservoir by the power of gravity, but the sphere still secures the ink inside until it is rolled out. When the sphere is rolled across a surface, it accepts ink from the reservoir and transferred unto the writing surface. Another facet to retractable ball point pens is that the sphere stops air from entering the reservoir, permitting the quick-drying ink to remain moist at all times.

The Retraction Mechanism
The beauty of the retraction mechanism lies in the two springs located inside the pen. The initial spring, known as a ratchet, is situated within the bottom half of the tub or barrel. Before the reservoir is placed into the open end of the barrel, it first makes its way from the spring. On the opposite side of the reservoir, a spring is located within the upper half of the tub. Known as the button spring, it is linked to a clip and screw, which subsequently allied to the button at the end of the pen. When the button is depressed, it relays pressure to the button spring, which then empowers the reservoir out through the barrel. When retractable ball points are in use, there are minute pits and teeth which intertwine with one another (a locking mechanism) to make sure the reservoir stays out. When the pen is retracted back into the tub, these pits and teeth unlocks and the reservoir is securely back within by the ratchet spring.

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